Help support TMP

"British intervention to secure cotton." Topic

20 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the ACW Discussion Message Board

Areas of Interest

American Civil War

Featured Hobby News Article

Top-Rated Ruleset

Rank & File

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Profile Article

Current Poll

Featured Book Review

509 hits since 16 Sep 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 9:20 a.m. PST

One of the common fantasies of the Confederates, both in the 1860s and from wargamers is "British Intervention to Secure the Cotton Trade."

This ignores the far greater investment the British made in Northern industry and popular sentiment against slavery. If Napoleonic France (no, the idiot relation, not the original) had show stronger backing for the Confederate States, the the British could see better reasons for backing the North remember Britain is now in a naval race with France and is building the forts that would be know to history as "Palmerstone's Follies"

So how would the Civil War be different had Britain intervened on the side of the Union?

Obviously no British built raiders or ironclads, thought the Confederates never got those.

British blockading Southern ports freeing up resources from the Union Navy that could be used elsewhere.

What other ones spring to mind?

donlowry16 Sep 2020 9:48 a.m. PST

No Confederate raids out of Canada?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian16 Sep 2020 10:02 a.m. PST

Confederate raid up the Hudson to knock out US industrial strength.

RudyNelson16 Sep 2020 11:28 a.m. PST

British controlled enough cotton in Egypt to meet their needs.
Indian Mutiny just over as was the Crimean War. The British international focus was elsewhere. Burma, China, South Africa.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 12:02 p.m. PST

British blockade of American trade and the disappearance of the US merchant marine

British raids/potential capture of California

British moving troops to defend Canada – US likely to invade to divert British resources

Just a few thoughts

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 1:20 p.m. PST

Do people read the original post or just the headline? (Looks over the top of reading glasses at Frederick and Bill).

This hypothetical has Britain supporting the UNION so they're not going to be trying to capture California and neatly ends any threats to Canada.

Not going to by British or Union raids on each others shipping if they're Allies.

No raid along the Hudson for the same reason!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 2:23 p.m. PST

Would the Russians have thrown in with the Union to counter the Brits?

pvernon16 Sep 2020 3:55 p.m. PST

!38 Squadron, Nope, no one is reading they are all assuming the usual "what if". :(

Wolverine16 Sep 2020 4:24 p.m. PST

If Britain backed the Union, which is being contemplated here, the CSA would have no Whitworth rifles, Whitworth cannon, Peter Tait uniforms, Enfield rifles, British cloth, etc.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 5:09 p.m. PST

My bad. Brits on the Union side. Would that be enough for the French to support the South?

Bill N16 Sep 2020 5:37 p.m. PST

Britain had substantial investments in the Southern states as well as the Northern ones. Active British participation in the ACW would almost certainly have doomed the Confederacy to a quick defeat. If the unlikely happened and the Confederates won, then British involvement would have flushed all those investments in Southern states, just as active intervention against the U.S. would have put investments in Northern states at risk.

It also would be more accurate to say Britain was able to secure just enough cotton from Egypt to get by. What cotton did make it out of the Southern states, whether through blockade running or through seizures and sales by U.S. sources, found ready buyers at good prices.

Finally I don't see a scenario where Napoleon III supports the Confederacy when Britain is actively supporting the U.S.

RudyNelson16 Sep 2020 6:09 p.m. PST

Britain and France just finished being allies in the Crimean.
Russian support for the South May be a different issues.
With Russian holdings in Alaska, they could have threatenedCalifornia and British territories in the West.

Blutarski16 Sep 2020 6:12 p.m. PST

For reference -

Great Britain's huge textile industry suffered greatly due to the Union blockade of Southern cotton exports. See the "Great Cotton Famine". It was not until 1864 that cotton from Egypt, India and Brazil were able to partially resolve the problem, but their cotton was of inferior quality; by the 1870's, the American south had regained global domination of the international raw cotton market.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 6:28 p.m. PST

Then how about France retaining her alliance with England, and pushing into Texas from Mexico for some type of postwar gain?

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 1:01 p.m. PST

Blutarski – it was studying the Lancashire Cotton Famine that prompted the question.

Blutarski17 Sep 2020 4:18 p.m. PST

Hi 138SquadronRAF,
I suspected so. I think it was a highly complicated political situation for GB ….. with numerous moving parts.


Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 1:19 p.m. PST

Russian support for the South May be a different issues.

Unlikely to have the Russians support the Rebels. They supported the Union early on seeing the Union as an ally against England. That's why they ultimately sold Alaska to the US, it formed a barrier of totally useless territory keeping the Brits in Canada away from the wealth of Siberia.

RudyNelson19 Sep 2020 11:24 a.m. PST

John my premise was based on the topic post that Britain was on the Union side. Hence the Russians would have been on the Confederate side. Being in a position to hindered California and western Canada.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2020 9:13 a.m. PST

This is certainly an interesting thought experiment. For example, what if Maximilian had been accepted by all the Mexicans, leaving the French with a free hand starting in 1864?

RudyNelson20 Sep 2020 10:31 a.m. PST

Hmmm the French with the Mexicans trying to reclaim the lost territory of the recent Mexican-American War.
Or they could have focused on Central America which had a number of liberal versus conservative wars at that time.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.